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Trump’s Relentless War On Immigrants And Refugees Escalates

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An astounding number of developments in just the last week show how determined Trump and Miller are to close the doors and target immigrants

Coronavirus and the stock market plunge dominated the headlines, but it was an extraordinary week for Trump’s war on immigrants and immigration, with new developments practically every day that reshape national policy now and in the future. 

As the current issue of the New Yorker makes clear with its alarming profile of Stephen Miller:

restricting immigration and punishing immigrants has become the defining characteristic of the Trump White House, to the extent that campaigning and governing on the issue are no longer distinguishable.

This week’s actions show the extent to which this is true.

WEALTH TEST FOR  CITIZENSHIP: Given a greenlight by conservatives on the Supreme Court, the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule took effect on Monday, making the use of — or potential use of — public benefits a key factor in denying immigration status and a path to citizenship to immigrants living in the U.S.  Local governments, hospitals, experts and advocates say this will continue to have a chilling effect on immigrants using benefits like medical care or nutrition assistance for which they and their families qualify.

BANNING AFRICAN IMMIGRATION: At the end of last week, Trump’s expansion of his existing Muslim ban took effect, banning immigration in sweeping new ways, impacting a quarter of all Africans. For families and  individuals in the immigration pipeline or hoping to reunite with loved ones in the U.S., the new ban based on national origin — and race — means uncertainty, chaos, hardship and continued misery.

STRIPPING CITIZENSHIP FROM AMERICANS: The Department of Justice announced a new litigation unit focussed on stripping citizenship from individual Americans who are thought to have obtained their citizenship through fraud or failing to disclose information. The message is clear: even naturalized U.S. citizens are vulnerable in Trump’s war on immigrants.

MEANS TESTING DEPORTATION DEFENSE: Trump’s efforts to deport immigrants took on a new twist with an announcement that fees for appealing deportation decisions will go up astronomically — a tenfold increase to nearly $1000. Immigration attorneys point out the new fees will “lock immigrants out of due process.” BuzzFeed first reported in September on the draft rule made public yesterday.

DESTROYING SACRED NATIVE LAND AS SPECTACLE TO BUILD THE WALL: This week, the Border Patrol and Army Corps of Engineers invited reporters to witness as they blew up parts of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a World Heritage Site, sacred to Native people and protected habitat — all to underscore the Trump campaign’s relentless push to build its border wall.  As we reported earlier, there appear to be chinks in Trump’s partisan border wall effort as even Republicans and senior military officials openly questioned the billions diverted to the wall against the will of Congress.

THE SCOTUS ARM OF THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a scathing dissent in the Supreme Court’s ruling that allowed the Trump administration to implement its “public charge” rule, saying in essence what we have been saying: that the nation’s highest court is becoming dangerously political. This provoked a reaction from Trump — attacking Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg by name. As the nation awaits the decision in the DACA case that could make more than 700,000 Dreamers deportable, the disturbing politicization of the Court is especially ominous. The Court also granted free-license to Border Patrol officers — even those who kill people in other countries — when it ruled that they cannot be sued by the family of a young man killed in Mexico in a cross-border shooting. Lower courts also issued particularly disturbing rulings that are outliers among judicial rulings, but which could become the vehicles for Trump appeals to his pliant Supreme Court. A Second Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New York ruled — unlike others — that the Trump administration has the right to withhold certain funds from so-called “sanctuary cities” allowing the federal government to force state and local officials to serve as federal immigration officers. 

LEGAL IMMIGRATION PLUNGES AND THE ASYLUM SYSTEM HAS BEEN KILLED: As legal immigration plunges, DHS is expanding the fast-tracking of deportation. The Wall Street Journal’s Michelle Hackman reported on the case of Juliana Garcia in a must read piece that captures unsolvable hurdles asylum seekers face. The Washington Post today adds that Venezuelans are increasingly the victims of Trump’s asylum ban.

IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT THREATENS YOUR PRIVACY: A fresh reminder this week that US citizens’ privacy is in jeopardy as Maryland has turned over millions of driver’s license records over to Homeland Security to be run through controversial facial recognition software. Federal officials say they are seeking deportable immigrants, but everyone’s data and biometrics are subject to warrantless search and Maryland’s Republican  Governor is wary of crossing Trump.